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Elections and Campaigns

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Presentation on theme: "Elections and Campaigns"— Presentation transcript:

1 Elections and Campaigns

2 Campaigns: Then and Now
Parties are less important Media, polling, and money are more important People are hired to perform campaign tasks Media consultants Direct mail firms Polling firms Political technology firms

3 Campaigns: Then and Now
Today’s candidates spend the most on media 2004: presidential and congressional candidates spent a combined $1.2 billion on media Plurality of political ads were designed to appeal to voters’ fears (impending war, losing a job, etc.)

4 Federal Campaign Spending: Where the Money Goes
Election Cycle Spending

5 Introduction to Presidential and Congressional Campaigns
Two phases: getting nominated and getting elected Getting nominated Getting a name on the ballot An individual effort (versus organizational effort in Europe) Parties play a minor role (compared with Europe) Parties used to play a major role

6 Major differences Presidential races are more competitive.
House races have lately been one-sided for Democrats. Presidential winner rarely gets more than 55 percent of vote Most House incumbents are reelected (more than 90 percent) Fewer people vote in congressional elections Unless election coincides with presidential election Gives greater importance to partisan voters (party regulars) Congressional incumbents can service their constituents. Can take credit for governmental grants, programs, and so forth President can't: power is not local Congressional candidates can duck responsibility. "I didn't do it; the people in Washington did!" President is stuck with blame But local candidates can suffer when their leader's economic policies fail Benefit of presidential coattails has declined Congressional elections have become largely independent Reduces meaning (and importance) of party

7 Running for president Getting mentioned Setting aside time to run
Using reporters, trips, speeches, and name recognition Sponsoring legislation, governing large state Setting aside time to run Reagan: six years May have to resign from office first Money Individuals can give $1,000, political action committees (PACs) $5,000 Candidates must raise $5,000 in twenty states to qualify for matching grants to pay for primary Organization Need a large (paid) staff Need volunteers Need advisers on issues: position papers Strategy and themes Incumbent versus challenger: defend or attack? Setting the tone (positive or negative) Developing a theme: trust, confidence, and so on Judging the timing Choosing a target voter: who's the audience?

8 Getting elected to Congress
Malapportionment and gerrymandering. Establishing the size of the House

9 Getting elected to Congress
Winning the primary Ballot procedures Developing a personal following for the "party's" nomination Incumbent advantage Sophomore surge Using the perquisites (perqs) of office Campaigning for / against Congress Impact of the way we elect individuals to Congress Legislators closely tied to local concerns Weak party leadership

10 Differences between primary and general campaigns
What works in a general election may not work in a primary Different voters, workers, and media attention Must mobilize activists with money and motivation to win nomination Must play to the politics of activists Iowa caucuses Held in February of general election year Candidates must do well Winners tend to be "ideologically correct" Most liberal Democrat, most conservative Republican The caucus system: "musical chairs and fraternity pledge week" The balancing act Being conservative (or liberal) enough to get nominated Move to center to get elected True nationwide in states where activists are more polarized than average voter The "clothespin vote": neither candidate is appealing Even primary voters can be more extreme ideologically than the average voter Example: McGovern in 1972

11 Two kinds of campaign issues
Position issues Valence issues

12 Television, debates, and direct mail
Paid advertising (spots) Has little (or a very subtle) effect on outcome: spots tend to cancel each other out Most voters rely on many sources of information. News broadcasts (visuals) Cost little May have greater credibility with voters Rely on having TV camera crew around May be less informative than spots Debates Usually an advantage only to the challenger Reagan in 1980: reassured voters Primary debates: the "dating game" in 1988 Risk of slips of the tongue on visuals and debates Ford and Poland, Carter and lust, Reagan and trees Forces candidates to rely on stock speeches Sell yourself, not your ideas Free television time to major presidential candidates in 1996 The computer Makes direct mail campaigns possible Allows candidates to address specific voters Creates importance of mailing lists The gap between running a campaign and running the government Party leaders had to worry about reelection Today's political consultants don't

13 Money How important is it?
"Money is the mother's milk of politics." Presidential candidates spent $286 million in 1992; up from $177 million in 1988 Are candidates being "sold" like soap? Answer is not so obvious

14 The sources of campaign money
Presidential primaries: part private, part public money Federal matching funds Only match small donors: less than $250; $5,000 in twenty states Gives incentive to raise money from small donors Government also gives lump-sum grants to parties to cover conventions Presidential general elections: all public money

15 Congressional elections: all private money
From individuals, PACs, and parties Most from individual small donors ($100 to $200 a person) $1,000 maximum for individual donors Benefit performances by rock stars, etc. $5,000 limit from PACs But most PACs give only a few hundred dollars Tremendous PAC advantage to incumbents: backing the winner Challengers have to pay their own way; only one-sixth from PACs

16 Campaign finance rules
Watergate Dubious and illegal money raising schemes Democrats and Republicans benefited from unenforceable laws. Nixon's resignation and a new campaign finance law Reform law Set limit on individual donations ($1,000 per election) Reaffirmed ban on corporate and union donations, but allowed them to raise money through PACs Set limit on PAC donations ($5,000 per election to individuals, $15,000 per year to a party) Federal tax money made available for primaries and general election campaigns. Impact of the law Increase in money spent on elections Increase in PAC spending Additional problems: independent expenditures and soft money Campaign finance reform Reforms can have unintended consequences Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 Ban on soft money Increase on individual contributions (to $2,000 per candidate per election) Restrictions on independent expenditures

17 Money and winning During peacetime, presidential elections usually decided by three things: Political party affiliation State of the economy Character of candidates Money makes a difference in congressional races Challenger must spend to gain recognition Jacobson: big-spending challengers do better Big-spending incumbents also do better Party, incumbency, and issues also have a role Advantages of incumbency Easier to raise money Can provide services for constituency Can use franked mailings Can get free publicity through legislation and such

18 What decides elections?
Party identification, but why don't Democrats always win? Democrats less wedded to their party GOP does better among independents Republicans have higher turnout

19 What decides elections?
Issues, especially the economy V. O. Key: most voters who switch parties do so in their own interests They know which issues affect them personally They care strongly about emotional issues (abortion, etc.) Prospective voting Know the issues and vote for the best candidate Most common among activists and special interest groups Few voters use prospective voting because it requires information. Retrospective voting Judge the incumbent's performance and vote accordingly Have things gotten better or worse, especially economically? Examples: presidential campaigns of 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 Usually helps incumbent unless economy has gotten worse Most elections decided by retrospective votes Midterm election: voters turn against president's party

20 What decides elections?
The campaign Campaigns do make a difference Reawaken voters' partisan loyalties Let voters see how candidates handle pressure Let voters judge candidates' characters Campaigns tend to emphasize themes over details True throughout American history What has changed is the importance of primary elections and tone of campaigns Theme campaigns give more influence to single-issue groups

21 What decides elections?
Finding a winning coalition Ways of looking at various groups How loyal, or percentage voting for party How important, or number voting for party Democratic coalition Blacks most loyal Jews slipping somewhat Hispanics somewhat mixed Catholics, southerners, unionists departing the coalition lately Republican coalition Party of business and professional people Very loyal, defecting only in 1964 Usually wins vote of poor because of retired, elderly voters Contribution to Democratic coalition Blacks loyal but small proportion

22 The Effect of Elections on Policy
Political scientists are interested broad trends in wining and losing Cynics: public policy remains more or less the same no matter which official or party is in office Comparison: Great Britain, with parliamentary system and strong parties, often sees marked changes, as in 1945 Reply: evidence indicates that many American elections do make great differences in policy Why, then, the perception that elections do not matter? Because change alternates with consolidation; most elections are only retrospective judgments

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